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Old 10-02-09, 07:15 AM   #1
bill_pfaff
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Need some serious feedback please

Need some help please. Iím fairly new to cycling and am not sure what to expect from myself or how to get the most out of myself. I have been hanging out here hoping to derive this information from the group but I guess Iím too dense and just not seeing it plainly stated so Iíll throw out my questions and see what comes back.

First let me give you some parameters.

1) 60 year old male, 230 lbs. Quit smoking 2.5 yrs ago and generally in good health.

2) Started riding an ďoldĒ big-box-store mountain bike last summer. Did not ride between last Oct & this past May but ran Ĺ hour on a treadmill 4 nights a week during the off season. Bought a Trek 7300 (hybrid) this June and have ridden 478 miles so far this season.

3) Try to ride 4 times per week. Rides generally are between 15 Ė 20 miles at an average speed of about 12.5 MPH. Rides are in Delaware which is generally pretty flat.

My problem is that I keep reading how people are riding 30, 40, 50, 100 miles and averaging upwards of 17 mph or better. A lot of the rides are no less in what I would consider mountainous areas. Iím like ďWhatís my problem?Ē. Why am I not beating my 12.5 MPH average and why is a 20 mile ride killing me?

Toward all this I have a few questions and am open to any words of wisdom to answer them.

1) About my 12.5 MPH average and my 20 mile max. distance. Am I expecting too much out of my bike? Are these numbers about all Iím going to get out of my hybrid, understanding Iím not Lance Armstrong? Would I get better results were I on a road bike? I have looked at, and rode a road bike since ridding my hybrid and it seems it is a lot faster than my 7300.

2) When I ride I try to only stop every 5 miles for a break and then I only take a 6 minute break. I know it is six minutes because I use my bikeís odometer to time it. It shuts off after six minutes with no motion. Thatís when I start riding again. Now I canít imagine Iím not stopping enough so I guess my question is am I stopping long enough? I figure I am but I thought Iíd ask how you all manage your breaks.

3) Nutrition. I have read so many things on nutrition that I think I have gained 5 lbs just from reading about it. Is there any magic in what you eat before, during, and after your ride? Iím on the South Beach diet so Iím trying to eat healthy. As far as my rides I usually donít eat before or during my ride. However, Iím reading how people eat carbs before they ride, energy food while they ride, and protein after they ride. Are my rides too short (20 mile max) to worry about any of this or is my eating habits associated with my rides part of my problem?

Well thatís about it. Iím posting this in two forums, the hybrid and the 50+ so if youíve seen/responded to this already I apologize. I just figure seeing as Iím over 50 and ride a hybrid the audience for these issues lies between the two groups so the best way to cover all the bases is to post in both groups.

Thanks In advance for any input and may you have a following wind on your next ride. Both out bound and inbound.

Bill
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Old 10-02-09, 07:43 AM   #2
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The first question I have for you, what makes your limit 20 miles? Is it you're out of energy? Your muscles hurt too much? or?

P.S. I wouldn't worry about what other people can ride. You shouldn't expect to be able to maintain a 17-18mph average until you get more fit. I can manage 20 miles with an average pace of 14.5mph, but I've been riding lots longer than you.
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Old 10-02-09, 08:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by bill_pfaff View Post

My problem is that I keep reading how people are riding 30, 40, 50, 100 miles and averaging upwards of 17 mph or better.

Would I get better results were I on a road bike? I have looked at, and rode a road bike since ridding my hybrid and it seems it is a lot faster than my 7300.


As far as MPH averages, I think alot of riders stretch the truth a bit. Not all, but... quite a few. I think the day in day out average is lower, but hey, we like to use the average from that one day when we were feeling really strong.

That said a pure road bike would likely be somewhat faster. For a number of reasons.

Bottom line, it all doesn't really matter. Ride to enjoy yourself. Forget about riding to an average speed. Riding is making you healthy at any speed. Just enjoy yourself.
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Old 10-02-09, 08:57 AM   #4
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Don't worry about your average speed...it is meaningless. If you want to compare yourself to other people...race, otherwise just enjoy the ride. If you want to use your average speed as a metric to judge yourself against your own past performance, cool, but keep in mind that many variables contribute to your average that must be considered for comparison sake.

For riding a Trek 7300, you ain't doing bad.
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Old 10-02-09, 09:16 AM   #5
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Bill,

If your goal is to increase your fitness then it doesn't matter how fast you ride, it matters if you get a good workout (which it sounds is the case). You might want to get a heart rate monitor to optimize the workout, but you're looking for a workout. I wouldn't be too concerned about how fast you are relative to others on the boards...some of whom have different goals, a different fitness baseline, different bikes, etc.

On the other hand, if your goal is to ride faster or longer then I would suggest starting a formal training program to reach that goal. There are lots of ways to do that, including groups that can train you to do a century, etc. Similar to marathon training programs, where somebody who can barely run 3 miles in April ends up running the Chicago marathon in October in a respectible 4:30 time (my wife, for example). But if you want to demonstrate improvement in a certain dimension, you need to identify specifically what that dimension is, set a specific goal, then commission a program to achieve it. And the great thing about the internet is that finding DIY training programs is easy and you don't even have to find a group or organization/coach (although that helps, since if the goals you set are difficult to achieve, some external motivation is helpful to many people).

Just my $0.02.
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Old 10-02-09, 09:18 AM   #6
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Don't worry about your average speed...it is meaningless. If you want to compare yourself to other people...race, otherwise just enjoy the ride. If you want to use your average speed as a metric to judge yourself against your own past performance, cool, but keep in mind that many variables contribute to your average that must be considered for comparison sake.

For riding a Trek 7300, you ain't doing bad.
+++1. OP, 'it's not about the bike'! As Chipcom says, you ain't doing bad at all -- quite the contrary. I post in 50+ too from time to time; I'm now 58, but didn't take up cycling seriously until I turned 50. First/second summer I was doing about like you (with 10 years on my age then) are now, using a heavy ol' cheapo mtb with road tires. Kept at it, now (over the past 4/5 years) averaging 5000+ kms/year, and probably overall fitter than at any point since my late 'teens.
Don't know my 'average speed', don't care. It's more than fast enough for me; I know that I'm (on average) faster than many (in roughly my age group), slower than some -- just a simple observation. Unless you want to race, or (as some are) are just interested in the stats, there's no point in worrying about it. Keep at it; the 'numbers' will - over time - go up
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Old 10-02-09, 09:29 AM   #7
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There is nothing wrong with a 12.5 average.

Are you able to ride more days ? Are you able to not stop so often? Have you tried to extend your rides gradually?

Just keep riding and enjoying the ride. Miles don't matter to mental health, riding does.

I used to average 14.5 - 15.0 when I rode alone, and harder.

I'm 63, by the way, and down to 190 from 210.

I now ride almost daily with a friend, usually doing 30 - 40 miles, and then additional as errrands during the day. We average 12.0 - 12.5 MPH, but enjoy the ride much more.

I don't mind riding alone, and even enjoy that; but, personal interaction is lots more fun.

Just enjoy the ride, miles will follow ... Speed doesn't matter.
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Old 10-02-09, 09:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill_pfaff View Post
Need some help please. I’m fairly new to cycling and am not sure what to expect from myself or how to get the most out of myself. I have been hanging out here hoping to derive this information from the group but I guess I’m too dense and just not seeing it plainly stated so I’ll throw out my questions and see what comes back.

First let me give you some parameters.

1) 60 year old male, 230 lbs. Quit smoking 2.5 yrs ago and generally in good health.

2) Started riding an “old” big-box-store mountain bike last summer. Did not ride between last Oct & this past May but ran Ĺ hour on a treadmill 4 nights a week during the off season. Bought a Trek 7300 (hybrid) this June and have ridden 478 miles so far this season.

3) Try to ride 4 times per week. Rides generally are between 15 – 20 miles at an average speed of about 12.5 MPH. Rides are in Delaware which is generally pretty flat.

My problem is that I keep reading how people are riding 30, 40, 50, 100 miles and averaging upwards of 17 mph or better. A lot of the rides are no less in what I would consider mountainous areas. I’m like “What’s my problem?”. Why am I not beating my 12.5 MPH average and why is a 20 mile ride killing me?

Toward all this I have a few questions and am open to any words of wisdom to answer them.

1) About my 12.5 MPH average and my 20 mile max. distance. Am I expecting too much out of my bike? Are these numbers about all I’m going to get out of my hybrid, understanding I’m not Lance Armstrong? Would I get better results were I on a road bike? I have looked at, and rode a road bike since ridding my hybrid and it seems it is a lot faster than my 7300.

2) When I ride I try to only stop every 5 miles for a break and then I only take a 6 minute break. I know it is six minutes because I use my bike’s odometer to time it. It shuts off after six minutes with no motion. That’s when I start riding again. Now I can’t imagine I’m not stopping enough so I guess my question is am I stopping long enough? I figure I am but I thought I’d ask how you all manage your breaks.

3) Nutrition. I have read so many things on nutrition that I think I have gained 5 lbs just from reading about it. Is there any magic in what you eat before, during, and after your ride? I’m on the South Beach diet so I’m trying to eat healthy. As far as my rides I usually don’t eat before or during my ride. However, I’m reading how people eat carbs before they ride, energy food while they ride, and protein after they ride. Are my rides too short (20 mile max) to worry about any of this or is my eating habits associated with my rides part of my problem?

Well that’s about it. I’m posting this in two forums, the hybrid and the 50+ so if you’ve seen/responded to this already I apologize. I just figure seeing as I’m over 50 and ride a hybrid the audience for these issues lies between the two groups so the best way to cover all the bases is to post in both groups.

Thanks In advance for any input and may you have a following wind on your next ride. Both out bound and inbound.

Bill

Your bike is a junker and you are over weight and out of shape thus your 12.5 MPH limit and 20 miles barely making it maximum.

My 25 mile time is around one hour on my Pinarello steel rodie. On my Stupmjumper with knobbies I creak along at over 1:30 for the 25 miles. With Specialized 1.5 inch Nimbus tires on the Stumpie I can get maybe 1:20 for the 25 miles. On a box store MTB, I would fall over dead trying to make any of those times.

Congrats on stopping smoking but the damage is done and never will be undone, your lungs will never operate like they would have now if you had not smoked all of your life. Just be glad you do not have emphysema and cannot ride or walk at all and instead have an O2 tube in your nose which is were many smokers wind up.

Go to a bike shop and get a real bicycle, not a MTB, unless dirt roads are where you ride, otherwise get a bicycle suitable for long distance touring on pavement. It is about the bike.

Last edited by Loose Chain; 10-02-09 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 10-02-09, 09:59 AM   #9
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Trek 7300
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Old 10-02-09, 10:36 AM   #10
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Your bike is a junker and you are over weight and out of shape thus your 12.5 MPH limit and 20 miles barely making it maximum.

My 25 mile time is around one hour on my Pinarello steel rodie. On my Stupmjumper with knobbies I creak along at over 1:30 for the 25 miles. With Specialized 1.5 inch Nimbus tires on the Stumpie I can get maybe 1:20 for the 25 miles. On a box store MTB, I would fall over dead trying to make any of those times.

Congrats on stopping smoking but the damage is done and never will be undone, your lungs will never operate like they would have now if you had not smoked all of your life. Just be glad you do not have emphysema and cannot ride or walk at all and instead have an O2 tube in your nose which is were many smokers wind up.

Go to a bike shop and get a real bicycle, not a MTB, unless dirt roads are where you ride, otherwise get a bicycle suitable for long distance touring on pavement. It is about the bike.
Shouldn't you be in school at this time of day, noobsauce?
Don't make me call the truant officers on you.
How does it feel to be slower than a 50 year old fat dude like me?
Come back when you discover puberty.
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Old 10-02-09, 10:41 AM   #11
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I think it is about the bike. If he's on a 38lb mountain bike from Walmart with nothing more than a spring for rear suspension the majority of the energy he puts out does not go towards forward momentum. The bike, the tires, bike fit. Starting at the beginning is starting with the bike.

He has to stop every 5 miles for a rest!
Can you read?
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Old 10-02-09, 10:52 AM   #12
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Apparently no! Fixed.

Last edited by Saddle Up; 10-02-09 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 10-02-09, 11:07 AM   #13
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My two cents: If you want to ride further than 20 miles, don't stop until you've ridden further than 20 miles. That sounds flip on the surface, but really it isn't. The further and more often you ride the fitter you will get and the further you will be able to ride comfortably. Find a longer loop and break up the routine. About the average speed, you're doing fine, remember this is the internet and exaggeration happens. On a lot of my rides that's about what I average too. Keep eating right and riding more often and you will - absolutely positively guaranteed - continue to improve. But at our age (I'm 57) it takes a while. And it is worth it. So hang in there.
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Old 10-02-09, 11:13 AM   #14
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Well you bought a great bike, It's probably better suited for hardcore gravel than tar but what the hell. At your age It's what you did in your past that will deside your bikeing future developeing leg strenth at 50 will involve weights and bike hill climbing: Id forget the treadmill this is bikeing not jogging If your super serious about training go visit the folks road cycleing and raceing./Kenneth
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Old 10-02-09, 11:31 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain View Post
Your bike is a junker and you are over weight and out of shape thus your 12.5 MPH limit and 20 miles barely making it maximum.

My 25 mile time is around one hour on my Pinarello steel rodie. On my Stupmjumper with knobbies I creak along at over 1:30 for the 25 miles. With Specialized 1.5 inch Nimbus tires on the Stumpie I can get maybe 1:20 for the 25 miles. On a box store MTB, I would fall over dead trying to make any of those times.

Congrats on stopping smoking but the damage is done and never will be undone, your lungs will never operate like they would have now if you had not smoked all of your life. Just be glad you do not have emphysema and cannot ride or walk at all and instead have an O2 tube in your nose which is were many smokers wind up.

Go to a bike shop and get a real bicycle, not a MTB, unless dirt roads are where you ride, otherwise get a bicycle suitable for long distance touring on pavement. It is about the bike.
There are two possibilities here: either this is an attempt to parody the kinds of 'helpful' responses to an honest set of questions from the OP which often pop up on these boards, or this individual means each and every word. If the former, it fails miserably; if the latter, what -- WHAT was the point?

Message to Bill: just ignore this one.
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Old 10-02-09, 01:13 PM   #16
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On average speed:

(1) Once asked a racer friend (a repeat state time-trial champion) how he kept track of his training rides, since he didn't use a bike computer. "I just look at my watch at the start and finish of the ride and figure that I average 15 miles per hour when I'm training," he said.

(2) Went out on an early-season training ride with another of the local upper-level racers. He said that he'd be happy to ride with me but that he knows what pace he has to maintain, and he maintains that pace no matter what. I started pushing a tiny bit on a long, steady climb, thinking that I might be holding him back. Looked around after a minute - the other guy was about 15 feet behind me. That was a wake-up call; when elite riders say they're going to maintain a training pace, they mean it.

(3) One of the guys on the Road forum recently wrote, "You'll beat me anywhere but in a race."

Moral: do the pace that's right for you in your current state of fitness, and you'll reap the benefits in the long run. It took a while for me to figure that out, but when I did, I started using my pulsemeter to control my rides. In the early season, hill climbing at 155 or 160 beats per minute seems awfully slow, but after a few months, I'm flying on the climbs. At 58, I'm pretty nearly as strong on the hills as I was at 25.
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Old 10-02-09, 03:27 PM   #17
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And, that Trek is a nice bike, and will do fine.

Your lungs will also improve, it will just take time, along with your sense of taste and smell.

Enjoy the ride - it will get better every day, if you let it.
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Old 10-02-09, 05:50 PM   #18
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Congrats on stopping smoking but the damage is done and never will be undone, your lungs will never operate like they would have now if you had not smoked all of your life. Just be glad you do not have emphysema and cannot ride or walk at all and instead have an O2 tube in your nose which is were many smokers wind up.
Bulls*it. I smoked a pack a day for over 5 years. 10 years after my last cigarette I have no problem averaging >19mph over a 35 mile course and >18mph over 50miles. On a hybrid -- a Trek 7.5FX. I can also run a 10k in <46 minutes, which is more taxing on my lungs than any of the above.

I don't know if your post is a pathetic attempt at humor or something else, but it is off base and mean spirited.
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Old 10-02-09, 05:53 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by bill_pfaff View Post
Need some help please. Iím fairly new to cycling and am not sure what to expect from myself or how to get the most out of myself. I have been hanging out here hoping to derive this information from the group but I guess Iím too dense and just not seeing it plainly stated so Iíll throw out my questions and see what comes back.

First let me give you some parameters.

1) 60 year old male, 230 lbs. Quit smoking 2.5 yrs ago and generally in good health.

2) Started riding an ďoldĒ big-box-store mountain bike last summer. Did not ride between last Oct & this past May but ran Ĺ hour on a treadmill 4 nights a week during the off season. Bought a Trek 7300 (hybrid) this June and have ridden 478 miles so far this season.

3) Try to ride 4 times per week. Rides generally are between 15 Ė 20 miles at an average speed of about 12.5 MPH. Rides are in Delaware which is generally pretty flat.

My problem is that I keep reading how people are riding 30, 40, 50, 100 miles and averaging upwards of 17 mph or better. A lot of the rides are no less in what I would consider mountainous areas. Iím like ďWhatís my problem?Ē. Why am I not beating my 12.5 MPH average and why is a 20 mile ride killing me?

Toward all this I have a few questions and am open to any words of wisdom to answer them.

1) About my 12.5 MPH average and my 20 mile max. distance. Am I expecting too much out of my bike? Are these numbers about all Iím going to get out of my hybrid, understanding Iím not Lance Armstrong? Would I get better results were I on a road bike? I have looked at, and rode a road bike since ridding my hybrid and it seems it is a lot faster than my 7300.

2) When I ride I try to only stop every 5 miles for a break and then I only take a 6 minute break. I know it is six minutes because I use my bikeís odometer to time it. It shuts off after six minutes with no motion. Thatís when I start riding again. Now I canít imagine Iím not stopping enough so I guess my question is am I stopping long enough? I figure I am but I thought Iíd ask how you all manage your breaks.

3) Nutrition. I have read so many things on nutrition that I think I have gained 5 lbs just from reading about it. Is there any magic in what you eat before, during, and after your ride? Iím on the South Beach diet so Iím trying to eat healthy. As far as my rides I usually donít eat before or during my ride. However, Iím reading how people eat carbs before they ride, energy food while they ride, and protein after they ride. Are my rides too short (20 mile max) to worry about any of this or is my eating habits associated with my rides part of my problem?

Well thatís about it. Iím posting this in two forums, the hybrid and the 50+ so if youíve seen/responded to this already I apologize. I just figure seeing as Iím over 50 and ride a hybrid the audience for these issues lies between the two groups so the best way to cover all the bases is to post in both groups.

Thanks In advance for any input and may you have a following wind on your next ride. Both out bound and inbound.

Bill
Your lungs will heal themselves over time. This is one of the only organs that heals itself.
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Old 10-02-09, 07:23 PM   #20
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Shouldn't you be in school at this time of day, noobsauce?
Don't make me call the truant officers on you.
How does it feel to be slower than a 50 year old fat dude like me?
Come back when you discover puberty.
I graduated HS in 1972.

I am not trying to be mean, his new bike is a good bike, the MTB he had was a dog. He will do much better with the new bike. As to the rest, I can stay with it. The damage a life of smoking does to lungs cannot be fully reversed. It is a good thing to get out and exercise and especially cycle because his life quality will be much improved and with the new bike his speeds and fitness should greatly improve.

The part on the package of cigs where it says, may be dangerous to your health, that has been there a long time. Smoking causes permanent damage that cannot be undone and in aerobic sports like cycling it will be a factor.
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Old 10-02-09, 07:48 PM   #21
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Wow, I wish I could speak to each and every one of you're posts as each one was outstanding. There wasn't one post from which I didn't get some piece of worthwhile information or encouragement. Even from Loose Chain's post.

On a side note this is why I joined this forum. I watched it for a while before joining and was very impressed with the level of useful information and mutual respect reflected by most all of the threads. Understanding friendly bantering.

Back to the point. After all is said and done what I'm generally getting from your posts is that I'm on the right track, relax, and keep riding to a pace I'm comfortable with yet always pushing the limits just a bit. Things will improve.

Moving forward. Seeing as I'm a big sissy and as soon as it gets too cold I'm done ridding I think I'll look into a spinning type bike or a training stand to get me through the winter.

Thank you all again!
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Old 10-02-09, 08:08 PM   #22
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Bill - you haven't said why you stop at 20 miles. Are your legs sore, or just tired, or do you have back ache? Each of these will indicate a different problem.

Anyway -

1. Are you drinking water while you ride? You should try drinking more and see if it makes a difference. It's worth considering a cheap hydration pack. Don't wait to feel thirsty - try drinking every 5 minutes if you get the pack.

2. Have you tried a snack like a banana every, say, ten miles to keep your energy up? (By the way - don't be constrained by the South Beach diet while snacking during rides: your blood sugar behaves very differently during intense exercise.)

3. Most people have their saddles too low - your leg should just be barely bent at its utmost extension while pedaling. Get this wrong and you'll really waste energy, lose speed, and lack range

4. Two reasonably cheap changes that will make your bike slightly faster: i. Put better tyres on. The stock ones are reasonably puncture proof but slow. Continental Sports Contacts in 32 to 38mm width are one good choice for speed. Marathon Supremes are fast and tough if you're willing to pay the price. ii. Cut the handlebars down to just over shoulder width - you could then fit Ergon bar end grips for extra comfort, which will help with the range.

5. Keeping your tyres at the correct pressure and your chain clean will help your speed

6. Vary your riding. Eg try to ride a fast ten miles one day, go for distance the next, etc. Trying intervals - eg go really fast for one minute, ride slowly for 5 to get your breath back, then go for it again. But you see your doctor before pushing it too hard!

My bet is that your range would go up quite quickly if your fix any seat height problem, stay hydrated, and have the odd snack.
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Old 10-03-09, 06:33 AM   #23
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Bill - you haven't said why you stop at 20 miles. - Stopping just because Iím out of energy. Not winded, not sore, not much else other than out of energy.

1. Are you drinking water while you ride? - I carry 44 OZ of a sports drink and pretty much finish it all especially if itís hot.

2. Have you tried a snack like a banana every, say, ten miles to keep your energy up? Ė Well now this is interesting. I do not carry or eat anything while I ride. This was one of my questions. Am I riding far enough to snack and if so then how much should I snack and a bigger question is WHAT should I snack. I know some in this thread have said I should not need to snack given my distance and I tend to agree with them but then again could that maybe be my issue?

3. Most people have their saddles too low Ė I set my saddle by sitting on the bike with my leg fully extended and my heal on the peddle. Thatís what I read I should do.

4. Two reasonably cheap changes that will make your bike slightly faster:
i. Put better tires on Ė Noted
ii. Cut the handlebars down to just over shoulder width Ė Also noted but I will need to study this a little to figure out what you are suggesting.

5. Keeping your tires at the correct pressure and your chain clean will help your speed Ė Tires are up to pressure. How do you clean your chain?

6. Vary your riding Ė Noted. Trying intervals ĖNoted. But you see your doctor before pushing it too hard! Ė Noted but heís pretty happy with what Iím doing.

All good stuff and it was a good summation of what a lot of others were saying. Thatís why I wanted to speak specifically to your points.

Again, thank you meanwhile and everyone else.
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Old 10-03-09, 06:56 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by bill_pfaff View Post
Moving forward. Seeing as I'm a big sissy and as soon as it gets too cold I'm done ridding I think I'll look into a spinning type bike or a training stand to get me through the winter.
Don't be sissy! You don't have to be hardcore riding in subzero temps or snowstorms...but even in winter there are perfectly rideable days where the roads are dry, the winds are calm and the temps are fair.
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Old 10-03-09, 07:09 AM   #25
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If and when you buy Ergon Grips, get the old style, and regular bar ends. With the old style (GP-1) you can still add a rear view mirror, like a Mountain Myrracle, so you can monitor what's happening behind you.

Even if you don't go with the Ergons, get the mirror. It gives you as much info as the one in your car. It's even worthwhile on bike paths.

Keep riding - this is one thing that will really help you, and it's just as much fun as it was when you were a kid.
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